One From Many

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When you flip through the pages of Martien's copy of One From Many—VISA and the Rise of the Chaordic Organization by Dee Hock you will find the following highlighted with a marker.

  • Harbouring four beasts that inevitably devour their keepers:
    • trading ego for humility;
    • trading envy for equanimity;
    • trading avarice for time;
    • trading ambition for liberty.

Old Monkey Mind

  • Three demanding questions appear repetitively throughout the book:
    • Why are organizations, everywhere, political, commercial, and social, increasingly unable to manage their affairs?
    • Why are individuals, everywhere, increasingly in conflict with and alieniated from organizations of which they are part?
    • Why are society and the biosphere increasingly in disarray?

chaordic \ kay'ord-ick \ adj. [fr. E. cha'os and ord'er] 1. The behaviour of any self-organizing and self-governing organism, organization, or system that hamoniously blends characteristics of chaos and order. 2. Characteristic of the fundamental, organizing principle of nature.

A Lamb and the Lion of Life

  • The essence of community:
    • Its very heart and soul is the nonmonetary exchange of value.
    • The things we do and the things we share because we care for others, and for the good of the place.
    • Community is composed of the things that we cannot measure, for which we keep no record and ask no recompense.
    • Since they can't be measured, they can't be denominated in dollars, or barrels of oil, or bushels of corn—such things as respect, tolerance, love, trust, generosity, and care, the supply of which is unbounded and unlimited.
    • Without any one of the three—nonmaterial values, nonmonetary exchange of value, and proximity—no community ever existed or ever will.
    • Only fools worship their tools [like money, markets and measurements].
  • What gets measured is what gets done
    • When we monetize value, we have a means of measurement, however misleading, that allows us to calculate the relative efficiency of each part of the system.
    • It doesn't occur to us that we are destroying and extremely effective system whose values we can't calculate in order to calculate the efficiency of an ineffective system.
    • What gets measured is what gets done. Perhaps that's precisely the problem.
    • In nature, when a closed cycle of receiving and giving is out of balance, death and destruction soon arise. It is the same in society.
    • Life is a gift which comes bearing a gift which is the art of giving.
  • Eager to learn, but averse to being thaught.

The Bloodied Sheep

  • No time to waste
    • How much time, energy, and ingenuity did they [employees] spend obeying senseless rules and procedures that had little to do with teh results they were expected to achieve?
    • How much did they devote to circumventing those rules and procedures in order to do something productive with the remainder?
    • How much was wasted interpreting those rules and enforcing them on others?
    • How much time and talent did they simply withhold due to frustration and futility?
    • It's a rare person who arrives at a sum less than 50 percent. Eighty is not uncommon.
    • In industrial age organizations, purpose slowly erodes into process.
    • Procedure takes precendence over product.
    • The doing of the doing is whay nothing gets done.

Retirement on the Job

  • Leader and follower
    • Lead is word used to describe so many different forms of behaviour that it has become relatively meaningless. A favored definition of the author [Dee Hock], attributed to a centuries-old Scottish dictionary, is as follows:

      leader \ 'le-der \ Lead \'led\ to go before and show the way.

    • Leader presumes follower.
    • Follower presumes choice.
    • One who is coerced to the purposes, objectives, or preferences of another is not a follower in any true sense of the word, but an object of manipulation.
    • Nor is the relationship materially altered if both parties accept the dominance and coercion.
    • The terms leader and follower imply the continual freedom and independent judgement of both.
    • A true leader cannot be bound to lead.
    • A true follower cannot be bound to follow.
    • The moment they are bound, they are no longer leader or follower.
    • If the the behaviour of either is compelled, whether by force, economic necessity, or contractual arrangement, the relationship is altered to one of superior/subordinate, manager/employee, master/servant, or owner/slave.
    • All such relationships are materially different than leader/follower.
    • Educed behavior is the essence of leader/follower.
    • Compelled behavior is the essence of the others.
    • Where behavior is compelled, there lies tyranny, however petty.
    • Where behaviour is educed, there lies leadership, however powerful.

      educe \eh-duse\ A marvelous word seldom used or practiced, meaning "to bring or draw forward something already present in a latent, or undeveloped form." It can be contrasted with induce, too often used and practiced, meaning "to prevail upon; move by persuasion or influence—to impel, incite, or urge."

    • Read more on The Art of Chaordic Leadership by Dee Hock. In essence, leadership is about following responsibilities:
      1. 50% of your time spent on self-management
      2. 25% of your time spent on managing superiors
      3. 20% of your time spent on managing peers
      4. rest of your time spent on managing subordinates
  • Enter the state of flow:
    • Teams whose performance transcends the ability of individuals.
    • This phenomenon can be be observed in sports, symphony, theater, in fact, every group endeavor, including business and government.
    • It is easily observed, universally admired, and occasionally experienced.
    • It happensm but cannot be deliberately done.
    • It is rarely long sustained but can be repeated.
    • It arises spontaneously from the relationships, interactions, and convictions of those from whom it is composed.
    • To be precise, one cannot speak of leaders who cause organizations to achieve superlative performance, for no one can cause it to happen.
    • Leaders can only recognize and modify conditions that prevent it; perceive and articulate a sense of community, a vision of the future, a body of principle to which people are passionately committed, then encourage and enable them to discover and bring forth the extraordinary capabilities that lie trapped in everyone, struggling to get out.
    • Without question, the most abundant, least expesive, most underutilized, and constantly abused resource in the world is human ingenuity.
    • The source of that abuse is mechanistics, industrial age, dominator organizations and the management practices they spawn.
    • In the deepest sense, the distinction between leaders and followers is meaningless.
    • In every moment of live, we are simultaneously leading and following.
    • Everyone is a born leader.
    • It is true leadership; leadership by everyone; leaderhip in, up, around, and down this world so badly needs, and dominator management so sadly gets.

The Zoo

  • Governance and deeply held principles and purpose
    • In the constructive sense of the word, governance can be based only on clarity of shared intent and trust in expected behavior, heavily seasoned with common sense, tolerance, and caring for others as fellow human beings.
    • This is not to say that contracts, laws, and regulations do not serve a purpose.
    • Rather it is to point out that they can never achieve the mechanistic certainty and control we crave.
    • Rules and regulations, laws and contracts can never replace clarity of shared purpose and clear, deeply held principles about conduct in pursuit of that purpose.
    • People everywhere are growing desperate for renewed sense of community.
    • Deeply held, commonly shared purpose and principles leading to new concepts of self-organization and governance at multiple scales from the individual to the global have become essential.
  • Money and Computers
    • What is the meaning of the marriage of money and computers?
    • It's not about banks or merchants or credit or cardholders.
    • It's not about data or information or computers.
    • It's about connections!
    • No, no, it's got to be deeper than that.
    • It's about massive change in interconnectivity.
    • No, no, it's got to be deeper than that.
    • It's about all things inseparably interrelated.
    • Is there some analogy between the industrial machine age as an extension of muscle, and the computer age as an extension of mind and memory?

The House of Cards

  • Compression of Time & Events
    • The answer to those three demanding questions was deeply embedded in compression of time and events.
    • Some readers may recall the days when a check took a couple of weeks to find its way through the banking system. Bankers call this "float".
    • Money "float" has virtually disappeared.
    • However, we ignore vastly more reductions of float suach as the disappearance of "life float".
    • The first life forms appeared approximately 4.5 billion years ago.
    • It took evolution about half that time, 2.2 billion years, to make the first time tiny step from the nonnucleated to the nucleated cell.
    • It took only half that time, another billion years, to create the first simple vertebrate, then only half a billion years to produce primitive fish and reptiles.
    • Then, in only 200 million years, evolution produced dinosours, birds, and complex plants, then mammals in only 100 million years.
    • Each change reduced by more than half the time required to produce the next exponential leap in the diversity and complexitiy of organisms, right on through to the creature writing this book.
    • There is no reason to believe this exponential reduction of time to create more complex, diverse organisms will not continue.
    • In fact, with the advent of genetic engineering, the time required for creation of new species—"life float"—may literally collapse.
    • Even more important is the disappearance of scientific and technological float: the time between the discovery of new knowledge, the resultant technology, and its universal application.
    • It took centuries for the wheel, one of the first bits of technology, to gain universal acceptance—decades for the steam engine, electric light, and automobile—years for radio and television.
    • Today, countless microschip devices sweep arount the Earth like the light of the sun into universal use.
    • The same is true for cultural float
    • For the better part of recorded history, it took centuries for the customers of one culture to materially affect another.
    • Today, that what becomes popular in one country can sweep through others within weeks.
    • Nor is lanuage an exception.
    • Words from one language used to require generations to take root in another.
    • Common words now emerge from the global culture simultaneously in all languages, while English is rapidly becoming a universal tongue.
    • It is no different with space float.
    • whithin a couple of lifetimes we went from the speed of the horse to the speed of interstellar travel.
    • Men and material now move in minutes where they used to move in months, while services based on information do so in a fraction of a second.
    • This endless compression of float, whether of life forms, money, information, technology, time, spacem or anything else, can be combined and thought of as rhe disappearance of "change float"—the time between wat was and what is to be—between past and future.
    • Today, the past is ever less predictive, the future ever less predictible and the present scarcely exists at all.
    • Everything is accelerating change, with one incredibly important exception.
    • There has been no loss of institutional float.
    • Although their size and power have vastly increased, although we constantly tinker with their form, although we constantly change their labels, there has been no new, commonly accepted idea of organization since the concepts of corporation, nation-statem and university emerged, the newest of which is several centuries old.

Peeling the Onion

  • Community Power
    • The truth is that a corporation, or for that matter, any organization has no reality save in the mind.
    • It is nothing but a mental construct to which people are drawn in pursuit of a common purpose; a conceptual embodiment of a very old, very powerful idea called community.
    • All organizations can be no more and no less than the moving force of the mind, heart, and spirit of people, without which all are just much inert mineral, chemical, or vegetable matter, by the law of entropy, steadily decaying into a stable state.
    • Healthy organizations are a mental concept of relationship to which people are drawn by hope, vision, values and meaning, along with liberty to cooperatively pursue them.
    • Healthy organizations educe behavior.
    • Educed behavior is inherently constructive.
    • Unhealthy organizations are no less a mental concept of relationship, but one to which people are compelled by accident of birth, necessity, or force.
    • Unhealthy organizations compell behavior.
    • Compelled behavior is inherently destructive.
    • SInce the strength and reality of every organization lies in the sense of community of the people who have been attracted to it, its success has enormously more to do with clarity of a shared purpose, common principles, and strength of belief in them, than with money, material assets, or management practices, important as they may be.
    • Without deeply held, commonly shared purpose that gives meaning to their lives; without deeply held, commonly shared ethical values and beliefs about conduct in pursuit of that purpose that all may trust and rely upon, communities steadily disintegrate, and organizations progressively become instruments of tyranny.
    • To the direct degree that clarity of shared purpose and principles and strength of belief in them exist, constructive, harmonious behavior may be educed.
    • To the direct degree they do not exist, behavior is inevitably compelled.
    • It is not complicated.
    • The alternative to shared belief in purpose and principles is tyranny.
    • And tyranny, whether petty or grand, whether commercial, political, or social, is inevitably destructive.
    • People deprived of self-organization and self-governance are inherently ungovernable.
  • Money, Money, Money, and Plastic Cards
    • Money had become guaranteed alphanumeric data expressed in the currency symbol of one country or another: Thus, a bank would become no more than an institution for the custody, loan, and exchange of guaranteed alphanumeric data.
    • Money would move around the world at the speed of light at miniscule cost by infinitely diverse paths throughout the entire electromagnetic spectrum.
    • Any institution that could move, manipulate, and guarantee alphanumeric data in the form of arranged energy [informed energy] in a manner that individuals customarily used and relied upon as a measure of equivalent value and emdium of exchange was a bank.
    • It went even beyound that.
    • Inherent in all this might be the genesis of a new form of global currency [which Martien calls the ¥€$].
    • Thus, the first primary function of the [credit] card was to identify buyer to seller and seller to buyer.
    • Thus, the second primary function was as guarantor of the value data.
    • Thus, the third primary function was origination and transfer of value data.
    • We [VISA] were really in the business of the exchange of monetary value.

The Impossible Imagined

  • Leading a Commons Effort:
    • Whoever does this job [of leading a commons effort] must be above reproach with respect to openness and fairness.
    • It simply can't be done without a great deal of trust and confidence, and that will be hard to develop.
  • The four ways of thinking about organizations
    • As they were.
    • As they are.
    • As they might become.
    • As they out to be.
“Did the meeting serve your purpose?”, asks Mr. Carlson, head of The Bank. [100]
  • Think different
    • The problem is never to get new ideas in.
    • The problem is to get old ideas out.
    • Perspective is the Achilles heel of the mind.
    • What if we quit about the structure of a new institution and tried to think of it as having some sort of genetic code?
    • How does genetic code in individual cells create recognizable patterns—platypus and people—palm tree and pine—minnow and mouse—yet never duplicate a single creature, leaf, blade of grass, or even snowflake?
    • What if ownership is in the form of irrevocable right of participation, rather than stock: rights that cannot be traded, bought, or sold, but only acquired by application and acceptance of membership? [this ownership implies the responsibility of care for the organization]
    • What if it is self-organizing. with participants having the right to self-organize at any time, for any reason, on any scale with irrevocable rights of participation in governance at any greater scale?
    • What if power and function are distributive, with no power vested in or function performed by any part that could reasonably be excercised at any more peripheral part?
    • What if governance is dsitributive, with no individual, institution, or combination of either or both, particularly management, able to dominate deliberations or control decisions at any scale?
    • What if it can seamlessly blend cooperation and competition, with all parts free to compete in unique, independent ways, yet able to yield self-interest and cooperate when necessary to the good of the whole?
    • What if it is infinitely malleable, yet extremely durable, with all parts capable of constant, self-generated, modification of form or function without sacrificing its essential purpose, nature, or embodied principle, thus releasing human ingenuity and spirit?

The Next to the Last Word

  • On joint ventures
    • In an early meeting with the Bank of America officers, we had gained assurance they would neither oppose nor endorse the intent of the committees to explore alternatives to the licensing program.
    • They would participate in those efforts, reserving the right to act unilaterally as events unfolded.
  • Human equivalance
    • Whenever approaching someone with greater wealth, power, and position, I silently repeat, "I am as great to me as you are to you, therefore, we are equal."
    • Whenever approached by those with less power, wealth, or position, I silently repeat, "You are as great to you asn I am to me, therefore, we are equal."
    • It doesn't always work, nut it never fails to help.
  • The next part is rewritten to serve as a general questions and answers on a commons membership and licensing effort. Bank of America is replaced by Founder to denote the —possibly biased—initiator of the effort. NBI is replaced by Commons to denote the neutral body in charge of the program.
    • What happens if a party decides not to join?
      • The organizing principles require they not be left in a lesser position.
      • Their license with Founder will remain in full force and effect.
      • Members of the new organization will be obliged to interchange with them on the same basis as they would with other members.
      • Founder will apply all regulations adopted by Commons to the licencees.
      • However, they will have no voice in the new organization.
    • What if a party decides not to join and does not wish to continue in the system?
      • They will be free to surrender their license, have ample time to discontinue operations, sell their program to another licensee, or convert their Founder-licences to a competitive program of their choice.
    • What if a party wants to enter the program with a license of from Founder rather than through the new organization?
      • Commons will have an exclusive, perpetual license covering the World.
      • There will be no further licensing by Founder and none by Commons.
      • Participation will require becoming an owner-member with equitable rights and obligations.
    • What about local cultures and regulation?
      • Creating such an organization is difficult enough.
      • If it can't be done in one country, it can never be done at a larger scale.
      • Attempting to create such an organization among nations with different cultures, languages, laws, currencies, and economic systems can jeopardize the effort.
      • The Founder will continue the licensing program, and Commons will act on behalf of its members in relation with foreign licensees.
    • How can Commons ensure equity and fairness between hundreds of local parties operating under different laws in different markets?
      • If you conceive of Commons as nothing but its core board and employees, it can't.
      • But that's a misperception.
      • There will be no negotiated contracts.
      • Each member will sign an identical agreement acknowledging that they have received a copy of the certificate of incorporation, bylaws, and operating procedures and agree to abide by them as they now exist or are hereafter modified.
      • Modification can be made only by governance bodies and methods that ensure that all views will be heard and decisions are not dominated by anyone.
      • Think of it as a a reverse holding company.
      • The regulations to which each party must submit are created by them.
      • Any time a member does not like what has been created, they are free to walk away without obligation.
      • It is an open, enabling, self-governing organization.
    • Will Commons be formed if only a small percentage of parties agree to join?
      • No. If two-thirds commit it will become operational.
      • We believe Commons is important enough to risk losing participants that produce a third of the volume of the system, but not more.
      • If members producing two-thirds of the volume do not join, the effort will be abandoned.
    • What if the owner-members want to make major changes, such as selecting a new name and abandoning any existing name?
      • There will be no restrictions on the power of the board to act in any manner within the constraints of the law.
      • However, the constitution of the new organization require higher precentages of approval on such critical matters.
      • The name van be changed if 80 percent of the members approve.
    • Doesn't the antitrust law forbid the formation of an organization composed of competitors?
      • Normally, yes.
      • But there is a provision that allows such formation if it can be demonstrated that the service or product is impossible to provide without joint action.
      • The Justice Department will then issue a letter that does not release the organization from its obligations under the antitrust laws, but gives assurance that the Department will not act against it unless anti-competitive effects are observed.
    • What assurance cdo we have that the Commons can resolve present problems and creat the kind of markets you envision?
      • None!
      • It's a matter of judgement and trust.

The Corporation or the Cane

  • On incorporating organizations
    • The Black's Law Dictionary telss is that a corporation is "an artifical person or legal entity created by or under the authority of the state or nation…ordinarily consisting of an association of numerous individuals.
    • Such entity…is regarded in law as having a personality and existence distinct from that of its several members…vested with the capacity of continuous succession irrespective of changes in its membership, either in perpetuity or for a limited term of years"—et cetera.
    • Corporations as they were bear little resemblance to corporations as they now are.
    • The original concept of corporation was a collective entity intended to attract people and resources needed to realize a desired social objective beyond the ability of a single individual.
    • It was created through the power of government and authorized to exist as an entity with limited, caerfully prescribed rights and obligations.
    • It was to be chartered for a limited time, to realize a limitied public purpose, in a limited area.
    • It was to be open to rigorous social and governmental surveillance.
    • It's "natural death" in time was specified in the charter.
    • Actions in excess of, or inadequate to the purpose, would be punished by revocation of the charter.
    • The increase in geographic scale, attendant risk, and capital that imperialist expansion required fueled the desire for limited personal liability, limited responsibility for risk, and unlimited opportunity for gain.
    • The corporate form of organization became a useful instrument for government plunder.
    • The statutes governing such entities have been liberalized, broadened, and made more detailed in their provisions ever since, gradually moving away from interests of government and society to the interests of monetary shareholders and management.
    • …ruled without comment that a corporation is a person within the meaning of the Bill of Rights in 1885.
    • The for-profit, monetized, shareholder form of corporation has demanded and received perpetual life.
    • It has demanded and received the right to define its own purpose and act solely for self-interest.
    • It has demanded and received release from the revocation of its charter for inept or antisocial acts.
    • It has demanded and received ever more protection and privilege from governement.
    • The roles of giant, transnational corporations and governement have slowly reversed.
    • For all practical purposes, government is now more an instrument of monetized corporatism than such corporatism is an instrument of governement.
    • They are no longer, not even indirectly, an instrument of the societies they affect, but an instrument of the few who control the ever-increasing power and wealth they command.
    • The purpose of wealth is to acquire power.
    • The purpose of power is to protect wealth.
    • The purpose of wealth and power combined is to acquire more wealth and power.
    • The use of the commercial corporate form for the purpose of social good has become incidental.
    • The monetized commercial form of corporation has steadily become an instrument of those with surplus money (capital) and those with surplus power (management) to reward themselves at the expense of the community, the biosphere, and the many without surplus wealth or power, commonly called "consumers" and "human resources".
    • Nor is corporate power restricted to power over the employed.
    • Global corporations now have the implicit sovereignty over people thruoghout the world, since they are beyond the reach of any nation-state.
    • They hold governement and its instrumentalities to ransom for use of land, for reprieve of taxation, for access to natural resources far below cost, for direct monetary subsidization, and for use of land, air, and water as a repository for refuse.
    • They do so by the simple expedient of bargaining one government against another for the claimed economic benefit of their presence.
    • Under the guise of free markets, they are now able to move their money, their operations, their products, and their management at will worldwide.
    • No government can do so.
    • No community can do so.
    • Few individuals can do so.
    • Global corporations are steadily creating a market for government in which they are the sole buyers.
    • It is hard to imaging a more ubiquitous, finely honed instrument for the simultaneous accumulation of power and evasion of responsibility than monetized, commercial corporations.
    • When a corporation rips from the Earth irreplaceable energy or resources, no matter how much it pays for them; when it uses any resources more rapidly than they can be replaced, or at less of full replacement cost, it has socialized the cost (spread the cost to society as a whole; the people at large) and capitalized the resultant gain.
    • A corporation has socialized a loss and capitalized a gain when it:
      • utilizes highways, railroads, airlines, postal departments or other public infrastructure at less than their full cost;
      • uses the military, the CIA, or any other government instrumentaility to protect its interests; *** diminishes topsoil, depletes the water table, or pollutes or poisons any biological system on which life depends.
    • When a corporation engages in unsound lending, or currency speculation and looks to government, the World Bank, or the International Monetary Fund to bail out its customers, public or private, in order that they may repay their debt; when a corporation is awarded scarce portions of the electromagnetic spectrum to market its ideology and wares, it has socialized a cost and capitalized the gain.
    • Liability for the socialized loss is transferrd to the unlived life of the young and to generations yet unborn through countless government guarantees and instruments of long-term debt, and through depletion of natural resources that required centuries of regeneration.
    • The rationalizations that they use and we too often accept ring hollow:
      • That some may have, is evidence that all may get.
      • Power and wealth result from superiour intelligence, effort, and ability.
      • Poverty results from lack of determination and character.
      • That some rise to the top is proof that all others could if they had sufficient intelligence and will.
      • Unlimited pursuit of self-interest (the "invisible hand") will result in the greatest good for all.
      • A rising tide lift all boats.
    • When we trumpet the glories of monetary capitalism and praise the fiction of free markets while decrying the evils of socialism we angaing in cant and hypocrisy.
    • Clearly, we make love to capitalism in the balance-sheet bedroom called cost, and make love in the bedroom called gain.
    • It is tearing the physical world apart, and most people as well.
    • If the purpose of each corporation is not primarily the health and well-being of the Earth and all life thereon, if its pronciples are not based on equitable distribution of power and wealth, if it avoids responsibility for the substance of family, community and place, if it has no belief system, or one devoid of ethical and moral content, it is difficult to see why it should have the sanction and protection of society through the arm of government.
    • If they [corporations] profess to be leaders; if they care at all how they ought to be, the should "go before and lead the way".

And Then There Was One

Quite Ordinary People

The Victims of Success

The Golden Links

What's in a Name?

Breaking the Mold

The Successful Business Failure

The Jeweled Bearing

Out of Control and into Order

The Emergent Phenomenon